Saturday, 14 September 2013

40 Soups - Mushroom

This week I made mushroom soup for the first time. I didn't follow a recipe (I rarely do for soups) I just thought about what I would like to do and went ahead.  It isn't the cheapest soup to make because it required a whole pack of mushrooms, but was very very tasty.

I used:
One pack of organic chestnut mushrooms,
One large organic onion,
Three cloves of allotment garlic,
One kallo chicken stock cube,
1 tbs organic olive oil,
A dash of organic double cream.

To begin I chopped the onion and garlic and fried it in the olive oil.  I then chopped the mushrooms and addded them till they went soft and watery.  Next I added enough water to cover the mushrooms plus a bit more and added the chicken stock cube.
After cooking for about 15 mins I blended the whole thing and added the cream.
Served with crusty white bread it was absolutely delicious and tasted just like a bought fresh mushroom soup.
What soup recipes do you love?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Blogging over at Imperfectly Natural Mama

You may have noticed my absence over the last few months, I can only apologise.  I have found my self outgrowing Serendipity Child, so have begun blogging on a new page:
I would love you to visit.  This new blog is a bit more focused on parenting and natural living.  I probably won't be blogging about design or fashion but will be blogging about cooking, gardening and craft. 
Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Burlap and Lace Wedding

Hi folks sorry I have been AWOL these last few months, it's been a busy time for me with some unexpected changes to my life which I will share as soon as I feel I can.
I have really missed blogging and have been umming and ahhing about starting a new blog because of the big gaps and inconsistencies of this one, but I am delaying/stalling because I can't think of a new blog name, plus I am worried about losing all you lovely people who read this one.
So anyway, way back in April I went to a wedding of a wonderful family friend, I had no idea what to expect in terms of a theme, dress, anything!  So it was all a lovely surprise and I was so impressed by the elegance and tastefulness of it all.  Some of these are my photos and some belong to the wedding photographer Zelda Martin (the first two and the forth):
Mirror displaying the table numbers and guest's names

Mr and Mrs Banner on the head table

 On the dessert table

Delicious croc en bouche

 Favors in brown paper bags embelished with a paper doily (love) and wooden peg
Top table floral arrangements, jars trimmed with lace and twine

 The floral arrangement on our table with lace and twine
beautiful bride, beautiful lace dress
Stunning beams on the ceiling of the barn

 Bunting (a family tradition)

This is the third wedding we have been to with Orren and we really enjoyed it.  Orren had a great time dancing to the disco lights and music at the evening function, I wish I had taken more photos but it is so difficult when you are preoccupied with a one year old!  I would loved to have shown you my outfit too as I was pleased with the thriftiness of it.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Hungry Caterpillar Bunting

We are going through an unusually cold spell here in the UK, we are all wrapped up inside fondly remembering the weather this time last year which was warm, sunny and spring-like!  Shortly after Orren was born I enjoyed a picnic in the park and a BBQ in the garden, so you will understand that we are all feeling a little down and out at the moment and desperately wishing spring to come.  Last week I planted some beetroot and spring onions in seed trays, but I just don't see them making an appearance unless the weather improves. 
I am trying to pass the time by seeing friends and family.  Last week I visited my best friend who had a baby four weeks ago, he is totally gorgeous and tiny, holding a tiny baby just reminded me how much Orren has grown, he seems giant compared to my friend's baby!  Did it make me broody?  Well maybe a little, I did start thinking crazy things like "I am sure it's easier with two", and "Orren could entertain the baby". 
I made a couple of presents for him including a couple of my neckerchief bibs and some personalised bunting.  I used Hungry Caterpillar fabric from Hobbycraft and come matching plain, coloured cotton.  It has 12 flags in total with four in the Hungry Caterpillar fabric, four yellow, two green and two red.

I hope my friend likes it, and her little boy when he is old enough to know. I thought the colours were quite jolly and would fit in with a few different colour schemes. 
Last weekend we visited my mum and dad in Wales, normally we enjoy a walk on the beach, but not this time, at 1 degree you'll forgive us for staying indoors and then heading to the carvery for a filling lunch. I also visited a friend from my University days who has a 6 month old whom I hadn't seen yet; it is so nice all my friends are having babies, feels like we are all moving into the next phase of life.  Are you in the UK? How are you coping with the unseasonably cold weather?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Allotment Update

Now March is here (coming to an end actually) it's time for me to get planting if I want to make the most of this year and get my family some fresh, home grown veggies to eat this summer.  It is difficult getting down to the allotment with a one year old, he isn't walking yet so has to either sit in the car or his pushchair which he doesn't like much, so I usually only get half an hour or so there at a time.  Luckily I got a few bits into the ground in the winter so I feel that has put me ahead a little.  So far I have perpetual spinach, broad beans, onions, garlic, rhubarb and last week I planted by first peas of the year.  I am excited because things are happening, but also worried I am not going to be able to keep on top of it.  My motto is "little and often" with the allotment so I am hoping it serves me well.  Take a look:

Here you can see the broad beans coming up

Here is the garlic and beyond that is where I planted the peas

The compost box I put together myself from 4 large pallets

The perpetual spinach

The rhubarb

What are you planting?  Next I am going to do spring onions, hopefully some more peas and broad beans and I am keen to get beetroot in so I can make this chutney again.
Hope you are having a good week.

Monday, 18 March 2013

First Birthday Thank You Cards

Orren received lots of lovely presents for his first birthday, including lots of really beautiful, authentic wooden toys and books.  I much prefer wooden toys to plastic because there is more potential to fix them if they are broken and if they are beyond repair there is the option for burning them which at the very least takes them back to something natural, I also prefer the feel and look of wooden toys and because wood is a natural material there are less chemicals released from it over time.  Plastic toys on the other hand are difficult to mend if they break because the plastic is often quite brittle and can't be manipulated in the same way wood can, and once they have outlived their usefulness the only place for them is landfill where they will stay looking pretty much the same for many many years, releasing chemicals into the environment (no one really knows how long plastics will survive because no one has lived long enough to see it bio-degrade.) Plastic teethers have regulations about what sort of plastics can be used in them ensuring that the chemicals in the plastic aren't easily released into the babies bodies, but other toys do not have such stringent health and safety regulations, even though children are highly likely to chew them anyway. I am also keen to avoid toys that contains batteries, not least because they are annoying but also because batteries contain many toxic chemicals that contaminate the earth and water and they cost money to replace which we can ill afford.
All this makes me even more thankful that our families and friends paid attention to our wishes and bought us almost all wood and battery free toys for Orren.  (We did receive some plastic toys which we are very grateful and thankful for because they are bright and fun and Orren likes them, but we prefer wood when given a choice.) So I therefore wanted to make sure the thank you cards I sent were extra special so made them myself rather than buying them (also better for the environment and my purse because I already had all the materials).  
I used some scrapbooking paper that my mum got me for Christmas called Kitschy Kitchen by Melissa Frances combines with white card stock.  The thank you stamp was one I bought for our wedding thank you cards, so it was nice to use it again.  I mixed and matched the different papers using one piece to cover the whole of the front of the card then a small strip mounted on white running the full width near the bottom of the card.  I then situated a white rectangle of card stamped with "thank you" slightly off centre on the contrasting strip.  I love the patterns of this paper and I am sure I will use it again in future, it's cute, and kitsch without being garish.  What do you think of them? Do you prefer wood toys to plastic?


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sustainable suburbia

There are many, many ways to change one’s lifestyle to make it more sustainable, from growing your own food to cooking from scratch to making your own clothes to going completely carbon neutral. Not surprisingly there are just as many different sorts of blogs which roughly fit under the sustainable living umbrella.  I follow some in my favourite blogs list or you can look at this website for more.
I have decided to join the Sustainable Suburbia links list, you could join too if you are into that sort of thing or else take a look at the many fabulous blogs listed.
Sustainable Suburbia: Striving for a lower impact lifestyle. Join the Sustainable Living Blogs Linky Lists

Eco-friendly Bathroom Cleaning

Let me just make things clear from the start because some people do get confused, I don't like cleaning, what I like is things being clean, there is a difference, and this is key to what follows.
Before I have a bath, I always give it a clean, I don't like that soapy scummy thing than stays on the bath after it's been used to shower in, so why would I let my lovely baby wash in a bath with scummy sides if I am not willing to? With that in mind I wash the bath before he uses it.  To maintain a bed time routine we wash him every night so, therefore, I wash the bath every night.  I realise this may sound excessive but it has actually made life a little bit easier easier and happier, so that can't be a bad thing. 

The process of cleaning itself has also received a transformation of late, in the past I used ecover cleaners, or when that ran out I used whatever shampoo or shower gel we had lying around not being used.  But I was never really happy with how clean it was, there were still water marks and lumps of limescale here and there.  I started to use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean the bathroom initially because I had run out of anything else and this was a last resort, (I had read about it somewhere)  to my happy amazement the more I used it, the cleaner the bathroom got, it is so much shiner than it ever has been.  I realise this may sound like a really dull thing to share, and I am not telling you to say "look how wonderful and eco-friendly I am" (clearly not that eco-friendly or I would have been doing this all along) or "aren't I amazing, I clean the bathroom everyday"  but we use the bathroom a lot and it being clean and tidy makes me happy, and knowing I am harming the environment and my health less also makes me happy so it might make you happy too (sharing the love). 

Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar are far safer for the environment than the medley of chemicals that most bathroom cleaners contain which contaminate the waterways and use of valuable fossil fuels to extract, not to mention the risk of skin irritation and potential lung damage from toxic fumes and perfumes.  There is also less waste afterwards because I am buying less packaging so throwing less away, and it is waaaay better for the purse as well because bicarbonate of soda and vinegar are super cheap.
Here is what happens:
I go up to the bathroom at Orren's bedtime and hose down the bath and walls,  I then spray round the bath and walls with a solution of distilled malt vinegar and water (about 1 part vinegar to about 5 water (I am gradually trying to reduce the amount of vinegar to see how little I can get away with whilst still getting a decent shine)) then I sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on a loofah.  I then scrub round the bath and walls of the shower and the tap and shower fixings.  I do the same on the basin and spray the bowl of the toilet.  I then hose down the bath and walls and rinse round the basin with a cotton cloth. I sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda into the toilet bowl and scrub round with the loo brush, I then wipe over the whole of the toilet with a wet cotton cloth, then again with a dry cotton cloth (top to bottom with the bowl the last thing). I then run the bath and while the bath is running I do one of the following each day - spray the window and window sill with the vinegar solution and wipe with a cotton cloth, do the same on the mirror and shelf above the basin, spray and wipe the shelf behind the toilet, clean the walls, wipe the floor.

This whole process takes no more than about 7 minutes and means that every time I or a guest go in the bathroom I know it is going to be clean. Gone are the days when I would spend over an hour once a week cleaning the bathroom, an experience I used to dread, because it is cleaned so frequently the dirt doesn't get a chance to accumulate so it wipes away much more easily that is it has been festering for a week.  Quite often my husband will do the cleaning instead of me so that's even less work.  He was worried that the bathroom would end up smelling like a chip shop but the smell goes within a couple of minutes. 

I get a big tub of bicarbonate of soda and a big bottle of vinegar from makro because it's really cheap.  I think the bicarb was about £1.99 (1.15 kg) and the vinegar about £2.99 (5 litres).  I could get organic vinegar and bicarb from the True Food co-op if I was going to be really ethical, but it is more expensive and cost is more of a priority for our family at the moment.  I use a loofah to scrub with because I don't like the thought of the small pieces of plastic breaking off a conventional sponge and entering the waterways and I use cotton cloths that I cut from an old, thinning towel and hemmed.
I really hope I have encouraged you to have a go at using bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to clean your bathroom because it is far better than any conventional cleaners I have tried. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

First Hair Cut

Last week we took Orren for his first hair cut, we decided it was time because it was starting to go in his eyes and hang over his ears and generally looking a bit messy. We went to the barbers that Paul normally goes and he got his hair cut at the same time.  I was a bit emotional and worried about how his was going to be, I was certain there would be tears but we went in, I took off his coat, the lady put a sort of booster thing on the seat to lift him up, he had his cape put on and he just sat there, curiously looking around.  He was very patient for the whole thing, even the blow dryer the blow the hair away where the hairdresser had finished cutting, he just got a little bothered toward the end because he couldn't find his hands under the cape! I took loads of pictures and saved a little but of his soft blond hair.  I haven't decided what I will do with it yet, perhaps a locket or something I am not sure.  But he looks so grown up now, then next day I couldn't believe how different he looked.  Paul joked that "he's a real boy". 

Doesn't he look serious!

Friday, 15 March 2013

My mothers day

Before Sunday my husband was asking me what I wanted to do for mothers day, I think he was hoping I would want to go on a trip somewhere, visit something, DO something, but my wish for the day was simple.  I wanted some flowers, some chocolates and to be on my own for a bit.  
Does that sound terrible?  I love my baby so much, and my husband of course, but for the last year I could probably count on one hand the number of hours I have spent truly alone, and I missed it.  
Of course the chocolates and the flowers were an instant win, it is kind of a tradition in my family to give/receive daffodils on Mother's Day ever since as children we had to go up to the front in church and collect a little bunch of them to take back to our mothers, (I always loved how my mum had loads of flowers because she had four children.)

I enjoyed a tasty breakfast of pastries then lunch out I had about two wonderful hours to myself and I used it to do a painting, my first since Orren was born.  I didn't write finish it unfortunately, but I did get some nice textures, layers and shapes down.  It was great to sit for a while, to not have to talk and to let the paper, glue, brushes and paint do the talking.  Here are some details.

I hope at some point I will be able to finish it, it's still out, along with all my paints, waiting for some words and a symbolic image, I am not sure what they will be yet, I will have to see where it takes me. 
One the Monday following Mothers Day, I was in the bathroom and Orren was crawling around upstairs, I thought I had packed all my paints away, then Orren crawled through onto the landing and I noticed his hands and feet had white emulsion on them, NOT good. I went into the spare room where I had been working on the floor and there was a puddle of white emulsion on the carpet.  I spent the next 40 minutes scrubbing the carpet to get it up, my hands look like an old lady's now!! Not a great start to the week, but I can laugh about it now thankfully.
What did you do for mothers day, did you see your mum?  Did you have something special to celebrate being a mum?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

New look for the blog and a change of attitude

You may have noticed that the blog looks a bit different, I felt it needed a spring clean, I might make a few more changes yet, I took away the tabs at the side and may replace them with new images when I get time, there is a new banner and profile pic, and a new tab along the top - recipes.  I hope you like it!
As for the change of attitude, I felt bad after the last post, it was so negative and although it was how I was feeling that day and possibly everything I said was legitimate I have decided that I want this blog to be more about the person I would LIKE to be than jumping on random moments of anger or annoyance.

When I dwell on negativity it makes me feel bad and I am sure you readers find no joy from me ranting,

If I want to be happy then I need to spread happiness,


So that's the plan for the moment, do you think it's a good one?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wake up smoothie for mums (and busy people)

 I don't know about you but recently I have been finding it difficult to look after my one year old, and look after myself, the health eating has fallen by the wayside and I most definitely have not been getting my 5 a day.  I am not being funny but it takes ages to eat an apple.  So I thought an easy way to boost my fruit and veg intake would be to drink it rather than eat it (no chewing win!) So here is my smoothie recipe:

One peeled orange,
one peeled and chopped apple,
one peeled kiwi,
a handful of spinach,
a sprinkling of mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, linseed etc)
twist of lemon,
tsp of honey,
1/2 cup of water,

Try to get organic if you can because it tastes better (in my opinion) and local is better for the environment and local economy, I try to avoid supermarkets.
I forgot to photograph it after but I can tell you it is a wonderful green colour and is really tasty.  This makes about a pint so you might want to share it with someone.  It's a great way to start the day knowing you are a good way through your five-a-day, plus the extra benefit of the seeds, you could also add a spring of mint or some ginger, I think that would make it even more tasty.   Don't add fresh oregano though, I did once and it made it tasted like grass.  Not good.
Hope you are all having a good week, how do you busy people manage to get in all those fruits and veggies with limited time for chewing?